A teen-ager eluded police during a high-speed police chase last August because "he didn't want to get a speeding ticket," his lawyer told Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks on Friday.
Matthew Mielke, 18, pleaded guilty to failing to stop at the direction of a police officer and reckless driving both misdemeanors stemming from the Aug. 16 chase. The original charges were felony failure to stop and misconduct involving a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.
As part of the plea agreement, Weeks sentenced Mielke to 120 days in prison with 90 days suspended for eluding the police, and 60 days in prison with 30 days suspended for reckless driving.
"This event happened shortly after Mr. Mielke turned 18 and gotten his license," said Phil Pallenberg, Mielke's lawyer. "When he was arrested he told the officer he was sorry he was running but he didn't want to get a speeding ticket after just getting his license."
Pallenberg said there was no indication Mielke was on drugs or drinking the night of the offense. But Mielke told police he had a small amount of marijuana and some paraphernalia in his vehicle.
Assistant District Attorney Dave Brower described the evidence of the case during the hearing. Mielke was arrested after a police officer noticed him driving on Egan Drive at about 70 mph. The officer signaled Mielke to stop but he turned at Salmon Creek and continued driving to Hospital Drive. In the parking lot his vehicle skidded off the road, over a log and into a tree. Mielke then got out of the vehicle and ran until the officer caught him and arrested him.
Weeks also sentenced him to 18 months of probation, ordered him to have a Juneau Action Safety Activity Program assessment and attend a driver's training course, and suspended his license for 30 days. The sentences will run concurrently, leaving Mielke 30 days to serve. During sentencing, Weeks said Mielke should consider himself lucky he wasn't charged with a felony.
"You came right up to the edge and looked over it, young man," he said. "Once the door slams shut at Lemon Creek it's hard to get it open again. ... You look like a young man with a lot of potential but you have to keep your eye on the ball."